March 5, 2001 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Finally! Someone is taking a stand about freedom of speech on the internet. Although it is AOL (who I dislike), it is high time someone other then the ACLU take a stand for freedom of speech on the internet. (And there isn't anything wrong with the ACLU, just that it is nice to see someone else come in and back them.)
posted by da5id (8 comments total)
"Freedom" is not the freedom to post libel anonymously and not get caught. Libel is illegal. Just because we have a new medium for expressing ourselves (as well as being controlled by others), traditional laws are not moot.

Our "freedoms" or "rights" of speech and privacy exist in no absolute sense. The exist on paper, literally. When freedom comes into conflict with public safety, freedom usually lose.
posted by ktheory at 10:41 AM on March 5, 2001

AOL-Time-Warner is a wealthy corporation that can afford to fight this sort of thing for as long as it takes. Nice to have them on our side for a change.
posted by Mekon at 10:44 AM on March 5, 2001

I find this kind of funny. Last year or so, AOL got rid of its ACLU message boards, the only AOL forums free from the harshest of their TOS (e.g., you could swear profusely on the boards). Regardless, I applaud AOL Time Warner’s efforts to solidify freedom of speech on the Internet. It’s about damn time.
posted by gleemax at 10:46 AM on March 5, 2001

From the article: “AOL says in its brief that the court should ‘test the merits and viability’ of Judge Melvin’s contention that she was defamed before allowing her to learn the name of her unidentified critic. ‘This approach is an essential means for protecting anonymous online speakers’ First Amendment rights,’ AOL said.”

Ktheory, it doesn’t sound to me like AOL is trying to excuse illegal actions. I believe they’re right in protecting a person’s anonymity until the “merits and viability” of an accusation are tested.
posted by gleemax at 10:53 AM on March 5, 2001

Exactly, prove that the remarks are libelous and damaging, and then allow access to the identity.
posted by da5id at 10:57 AM on March 5, 2001

By the by, the argument (in the article) that we can’t make a case without knowing the identity of the accused is hogwash. If the remarks are truly damaging, would not the remarks themselves be sufficient evidence?
posted by gleemax at 11:07 AM on March 5, 2001

I wouldn't cast AOLTM as some kind of saint, here. Seems to me that their main goal is to reduce the number of legal battles that they have to get involved in because of their subscribers' actions. If the law states that anonymous posters can say what they want, they get fewer subpoenas, and that's a lot less legal morass that they have to deal with.
posted by endquote at 11:46 AM on March 5, 2001

Regardless of their reasons, I agree with their actions and their goal.
posted by gleemax at 11:54 AM on March 5, 2001

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